Fit to Eat: Signs of Eating Disorders and How to Give Help
01 Mar 2021
Have you noticed something odd in somebody’s behaviour lately? Maybe it’s your close friend or one of your family members. Do you see radical changes in their daily life – their eating habits, in particular? If yes, they might be suffering from an eating disorder.
It’s hard when you see your loved ones suffering, and it’s even harder when you don’t know what to do to help them. To help you assist your loved ones through this time, read on to know more about eating disorders, and what you can do to support them.
What is an eating disorder?
You can determine that a person has an eating disorder if you notice distinct changes in a person’s eating habits. The person may also always be overly concerned about weight and body shape.
Most people are concerned about their weight, but some people are extremely bothered by it, to the point of going on very rigid diets, and carefully counting their calorie intake. They might be too conscious that they look too fat or too thin. That’s why they change their eating pattern to achieve the body they want.
Eating disorders stem from a person’s opinion of their body image. Other people’s opinions can also influence their views of how their body looks. If they are not satisfied with what they see, or gets bullied for their looks, they are prone to eating disorders.
Eating disorders take several forms, and here are the most common types that you can observe in people.
• Binge Eating
People who binge eat consume a massive amount of food over a short period of time. They can’t control their food intake, and they usually feel guilty about eating so much, but they don’t do anything about it.
Binge eaters consume food more rapidly than ordinary people, and they’ll keep eating even when they feel they’re already full. They also eat even when they’re not feeling hungry, but tend to hide when eating because they feel ashamed of their excessive eating.
Bulimia shares some signs of binge eating, such as the excessive eating of food on a short period. The difference with bulimia is that people purge after eating a lot. Purging includes vomiting, or you might also see laxatives around the house.
People with bulimia often disappear after meals, most likely to bring up the food they ate. They don’t eat a lot at regular meals, and they appear uncomfortable when eating with other people.
• Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexic people aren’t necessarily thin, contrary to popular belief. However, they are usually underweight, and are always in fear of gaining more weight. You’ll hear them talk about their looks, and how much calorie intake should they have.
They also won’t acknowledge the fact that they look unhealthy, and deny their bodies of food even when they’re hungry. They can cook food for others, but they won’t eat any of it. They will also have various excuses so that they can skip their meals.
How can you help people with eating disorders?
If you see the previous signs of someone close to you, you know that you have to act. Here are tips on how you can help someone with eating disorders.
• Identify the signs
If you see the signs, don’t immediately confront the person. Observe for a while, and establish a close connection if you want to help. However, be careful in your observations, and make sure the person has an eating disorder.
• Don’t rely on stereotypes
People can have eating disorders, yet you can’t see the signs. They might have anorexia, but they’re not overly thin. Some of them also try to hide their bodies. So careful observation will help you determine if someone has an eating disorder.
• Give love, not hate
It’s good to confront somebody, especially if you’re 100% they have an eating disorder. However, show concern, and don’t attack them or make them feel guilty or weak because they are going through something.
• Don’t manipulate or threaten them
Don’t push them to do something if they are not ready. You might try bargaining with them, or offering rewards. These will not help.
Don’t threaten them, too. Don’t say that you won’t be a friend anymore, or you’re exhausted in helping them. Don’t show negativity. Instead, shower them with positivity.
• Encourage them to get professional help
If you see that somebody needs professional help, help them understand that they need care. A lot of centres like Aurora Recovery Centre help people with eating disorders.
Eating disorders can gradually harm somebody’s life. If you see signs of someone eating a lot at random times, or going to the bathroom and vomiting after every meal, these can be your cues. Observe them, and make sure to help them in the best way possible.
Don’t attack them, or make them feel bad when you confront them. Be loving and caring, and offer help if you can. If your loved ones need professional help, encourage them.